What would the world be like without special needs?

June 28, 2012
By Tamarzi BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
Tamarzi BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The question has troubled me for weeks since I’ve encountered it, and I still have not come up with a perfect answer. As much as I would love to, it is impossible for me to say with complete certainty that a world in which no one had special needs would be worse off. When a child is born with a disability, it is extremely hard on the family, and just so, on the child him/herself. But on the other hand, the world has done so much, and continues to do so, for special needs people. Whether it’s a school, an organization, or a piece of furniture made to make possible the impossible, the world recognizes the importance of these individuals in society. But how do they contribute? Why do communities put such a stress on these interactions?

To elaborate, let me describe to you the typical Flatbush-Yachad program. For two hours on a weeknight, over a hundred students come together, singing and dancing with whoever has an available hand. They schmooze with tons of new people, Yachad members and other students alike, wearing those plastered-on smiles that quickly become sincere. Everyone is just a little bit friendlier than they would normally be, but it’s not artificial. In a matter of minutes one ends up making a whole bunch of new friends that for some odd reason, he or she had never spoken to before. And then the night is over, and everybody is feeling a little happier, a little less empty inside.

And sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me, how two hours can impact everyone in the same exact way. Our friendships with special needs people are crucial in becoming good people ourselves. I can’t say whether it is a fair price to pay, but these individuals teach so much to everybody they interact with. We learn to be completely ourselves and not to worry about what the opinions of others might be. We learn to have compassion, and to see past what is clear, and learn what may not be perceived at first glance. A world without this window into what is most important would be a more callous and cold place. I believe that in such a situation, all our abilities of sensitivity would be practically erased from our lives.

We live in a world where people’s priorities have taken a turn for the worst. We admire beauty and wealth and other such materialistic things. But a person who spends time with special needs people, learns to use his or her admiration differently. My years involved with Yachad have taught me to learn from and be inspired by these special individuals because they view the world the way it needs to be viewed. They don’t shield their true emotions or focus on material things, but see the truer and purer side of life. In reality, what’s conceived as a disability is really an ability, to perceive life in a better way. I feel that without such people, there would be no one to truly understand life, and we’d be stuck in a world that just doesn’t make any sense to anybody.

It is hard to imagine a world without such an essential part of society. It is hard to understand the place of people with special needs, despite the definite significant role they play. How can it be fair to them, to sacrifice a normal life for my benefit? It’s a tough question, but I whole-heartedly believe that the positive impact they have made will be an aliyat neshama for them and that they are already closer to Hashem than we could ever imagine.

The author's comments:
This was probably the hardest essay I've ever had to write. And truthfully, I'm still not perfectly happy with my answer. But it's a start.

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This article has 1 comment.

reyteves said...
on Jul. 10 2013 at 3:02 am
congratulations! Very well sentence constructed..I really owe u of what u stated behind...You did a great job...You gave importance the world without such an essential part of society.........

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